Sachin Tendulkar and eminent scientist Prof. C.N.R. Rao were presented with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, at a brief function at Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Durbar Hall attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Union ministers, Tendulkar’s wife Anjali, daughter Sara and a host of dignitaries.
“I will continue to bat for India even though my cricket has stopped, but I will continue to try my best to give the people of India a reason to smile,” Sachin Tendulkar told reporters after being conferred the award by the President of India.
“It’s the biggest honour for me and I am extremely delighted on receiving Bharat Ratna,” he said. “I am extremely proud to be born in this beautiful nation and I would like to express my gratitude for all the love, affection and support I have received for a number of years.”
Tendulkar, who retired from international cricket in November last year, is the first sportsman (and, at 40, the youngest) to be bestowed with this honour.
“I would like to reiterate what I said a couple of months ago that this award I would like to dedicate to my mother and along with her all the mothers in India who sacrifice their wishes, aspirations for their children so that their dreams come true,” he said.
He also congratulated Prof. Rao for motivating youngsters to become scientists.
“I would like to congratulate Prof. C.N.R. Rao for the Bharat Ratna. He has been instrumental in motivating and inspiring the youth of India to become scientists. I wish him all
happiness and good health.”
Interestingly, and to some controversially, the wording of the award had been amended.
Before 16 December 2012, the award was for “exceptional service towards advancement of Art, Literature and Science, and in recognition of public service of the highest order”. On that day, it was changed so that it could be awarded “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour”.
By broadening the criteria to include “any field of human endeavour”, cynics argued that the policy was altered specifically to accommodate India’s greatest cricketer. Under the previous policy, he could not be awarded the Bharat Ratna.
But others have welcomed the change. And in view of his achievements and the joy and pride he has brought to the Indian people, who would deny him this honour?
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